How to choose a good web design agency
Author: Miles Gripton
Choosing a good web designer for your brand or company can be a daunting task. Who do you choose and why? And more importantly, how do you find them?
As a business owner or marketer, you’re responsible for finding the right design & development team, as well as ensuring the project comes in on time and on budget. Find a design team that can work well with and the battle is already half won.
How and where to find the right web design and development team
There is a multitude of avenues to explore when trying to find the right web designers, but there are a few tried & tested routes that work well for most.
Search the web
This may seem obvious, but a thorough Google (or Bing) search using terms like ‘web development agency’ will deliver a selection of results that are very relevant to your needs.
Look for agencies that have good customer reviews. A five-star rating speaks volumes.
And finally, consider the agency’s ranking on Google. If they are on the first page, they likely know what they are doing when it comes to SEO, which is a very important part of web development.
Word of mouth
Ask colleagues and peers for recommendations. Someone in your team will have come across a good, reliable web design company during their career. Also, talk to friends in other companies, see if anyone you know would happily recommend their web designer.
Seen a website you like? Find out who built it!
You have likely come across a few websites that you really like during your research period, so revisit those and see if you can get in touch with the creative team responsible.
Need more inspiration? Try Behance or Dribble.
There are many online directories – such as Behance and Dribble – that list examples of great website design. Scroll through their pages to find something you like, then reach out to those agencies with your website brief, which brings us on to the next key point…
Define your brief
When you have selected your chosen agencies, it is important that you define your brief, so you can accurately communicate your project goals.
Go into as much detail as possible. The more information you give, the more accurate the proposals will be that you receive.
Here are some points to consider when writing your design brief:
What are the goals of the website?
When visitors find their way to your website, what do you want them to do? What pages do you want them to visit and why? Perhaps you would like to increase sales, website traffic or service enquiries. Either way, it’s good to know your key goals.
Key pages and functionality
How would you like visitors to interact with your website? You may require forms for registrations, downloadable documents or the ability to save goods for later purchase.
A good development team will help you define your requirements, but it’s always good to provide a functionality wish list.
It’s also preferable to have an idea of the size of the website. This information will help the developer plan the structure of the site and detail each of the page templates that will be required to fulfil the brief.
How will the website need to grow with the business?
It’s always a good idea to make developers aware of future expansion plans as early as possible. This information will help inform the way that the website is built, helping make future updates easier and cheaper to implement.
The launch date for your website may be influenced by a product launch or key event. Make this information clear so that the development team can help you hit your target.
You do not need to specify an exact figure. A ballpark ‘from x to y’ will help inform the suggested solution and make your job easier when it comes to reviewing those proposals.
Supply examples of your Branding
It’s beneficial to understand the overall character of the brand, including tone-of-voice, which helps the designers connect with your brand as early as possible.
Supplying marketing materials or brand guidelines will give an idea as to how much of the design will need to be created from scratch; and how much will be informed by pre-existing styles, such as colour palette, typefaces, and photography.
Review the agency proposal in detail with your team
It is important to compare proposals based upon the full detail of the content, not costs alone. Are you comparing apples with apples or apples with oranges?
A good creative agency should cover the following:
A description of how the creative team will work with you, how many visuals you will be provided with during the initial design concept stage and how many revision will be accommodated within the proposed budget.
This will help you get a feel for how easy it will be to collaborate with the agency in question.
Suggested Site Plan
A first draft site plan covering all key pages and sections will demonstrate that the agency is already thinking about your website and how the visitor will navigate through it.
Covering all key project stages, such as sign-off of technical specification, wireframes, initial design concept, design rollout, and development; the proposed timeline should aim to align itself with your launch date. If the desired date is not achievable, a more realistic timeline with detailed explanation should be proposed.
Covering details such as the chosen CMS solution (bespoke vs off-the-shelf such as WordPress), hosting and content delivery networks.
A quote that clearly shows where your money is being spent, split into key stages such as those listed in the timeline, to help you understand how the agency has arrived at that figure.
Examples of Work
You will have reviewed the agency’s website by this point, but a reminder of some of their best work is always handy, especially if they relate directly to your project.
Contact the agency if you have questions
A good agency will take the time to work through their proposal with you. Perhaps offering to present the proposal in person, providing the opportunity for preliminary conversations about the project, which help form a good foundation for a creative partnership.
Finally, make your choice
After completing the above journey, you should be in a good position to choose the best agency for your project.
If we were to give one piece of advice at this point of the journey, it is to remember that the cheapest option is not always the best. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. Just make sure you know what you are paying for first.
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